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Who We Are & What We Do

Our Mission

To provide a strong community network in the Hudson Valley that connects job training, education, employment, housing, therapeutic programs and other related support services to formerly incarcerated people and their families.

 

To create progressive and innovative ways to better serve the ReEntry community and their families through housing, therapeutic programs and job training.

 

To educate the Hudson Valley on the need to assist in the reintegration of formerly incarcerated people for the betterment of the Hudson Valley community as a whole.

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What is the Hudson Valley ReEntry Network?

The Hudson Valley ReEntry Network (HVRN) is a 501(c)3 Non-Profit organization dedicated to assisting formerly incarcerated people, their families and the agencies that serve them through progressive and innovative programs that promote successful reentry

 

 We believe successful reentry has two distinct elements:  A formerly incarcerated individual who has acquired an impressive resume of rehabilitation and a community that is willing to offer opportunities to this group once they are released.  We call this formular: Community Supported ReEntry.

 

We believe that Community Support, is imperative towards successful reentry and is absent in the current reentry residential models.  Community Supported Reentry brings local Business, Political leaders, County Officials, Church Leaders and concerned Citizens together in an effort to assist formerly incarcerated people who earned their second chance.  We believe if we helped those who served their time and rehabilitated themselves we can do our part to reduce recidivism and develop Agents of Change for our community.

 

Agents of Change are people negatively affected by the criminal justice system, who have chosen to become advocates and positive role models for their communities.

A tribute to Ms. Elouise Maxey, Late Northern Dutchess NAACP leader and Founding Mother of Hudson Valley ReEntry Network

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Dr. Bill Webber

As told by Ernest Henry:

 

I met Ms. Elouise in 2014, here in Poughkeepsie.  I was the Director of ReEntry Services and really fired up about helping people return to our community from prison. 

 

I didn’t know Ms. Elouise at the time, but I sensed she was a fighter, so I figured I would give her something to get riled up about.

 

I told her about a man who came straight to our office from prison in search of a job and housing.  He had everything he owned in a sack across his back.  He was well spoken, gracious and humble.  You would never know this guy had just left prison.  He acquired 50 certificates, a bachelor’s degree and an assortment of trades; and had remorse for the act that brought him to prison.  He earned his second chance, but we couldn’t help him.  The best we could do was refer him to the shelter and give him the same job referrals we gave the last 50 guys that came through.  Seeing him walk away with nothing to build on made me sad because that could have been me.

 

Ms.  Elouise listened to my rant and when I was done, she simply asked: “WELL, WHAT ARE YOU GONNA DO ABOUT IT”

 

My mind raced back to a quote from Martin Luther King, Jr, who said:

 

“They fear each other because they don't know each other, and they don't know each other because they don't communicate with each other, and they don't communicate with each other because they are separated from each other.”

I then told Ms. Elouise: “I am going to create a way for formerly incarcerated people to connect with the community as a part of the reentry process.  People returning from prison need to know that the GOOD people of this community would like them to succeed.  I have no idea how I am going to make this happen, but I am going to figure it out. “

After our conversation, Ms. Elouise called Steve Diamond and said:  I need you to put the paperwork together for a non-profit organization, I am sending Ernest Henry over.

 

Mr. Diamond filed the paperwork without question--out of respect--for Ms. Elouise. So, the next time you hear Hudson Valley ReEntry Network—think of Ms. Elouise Maxey.

 

I want to share one quote with you:

 

“When the student is ready, the teacher will appear”

 

I earned a master’s degree from New York Theological Seminary.  My degree was based on a curriculum called liberation Theology—liberation theology is based on the premise of God’s love for the poor and the outcast.

 

fifteen other men and myself were able to earn this degree because of a man called Bill Webber, a leader in theological education and urban ministry.  Bill was a Harvard Grad and President of New York Theological Seminary.   Bill believed that my class mates and I were salvageable humans at a time when the rest of the world labeled us as irredeemable, menaces who should be locked up and forgotten.  You see, I earned my master’s degree at Sing Sing Prison.

 

When we graduated, Bill made sure we understood that our education was free, but the payment was a life- long commitment to being an Agent of Change. 

 

It was our responsibility to do our best to make any community we found ourselves in, a better place. It’s what our Alumni call “Active Redemption.” – service to others and our community. 

 

As mentioned, “when the student is ready, the teacher will appear.”

 

When I met Ms. Elouise, I was ready to do the work, to fulfill my commitment - to do my part to make things better.  Ms. Elouise Maxey was the first person in this community to give me a chance.  She became my teacher, my mentor, my surrogate mother and my friend. 

 

So finally, the next time you hear Hudson Valley ReEntry Network—think of Ms. Elouise Maxey.

(October 25,1944- June 15, 2021)

Our Board

In the aftermath of the death of our President, Mrs. Elouise Maxey, and the COVID shut down in 2020-2021, our organization took a serious hit, financial and otherwise.  Nevertheless, we were able to maintain a capable and dedicated Board who share the vision of helping formerly incarcerated people find their place back into our community. 

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Our President, Juanita Wallace, is a Senior Investigator for the Defense Counterintelligence and Security Agency. Growing up in Brooklyn New York, Juanita saw, first hand, how the criminal justice system released some of her peers and family members back to the community without employment, marketable skills or a place to stay.  Juanita has advocated for both safe communities and a better support system for people being released from prison.  Her motto is: “Better support equals safer communities—and we need both.”   Juanita is one of the original members Dainty in Pink, a non-profit organization that mentors young girls to build self- esteem and to carve out a path  towards a college education.  Juanita was instrumental in the successful planning and execution of the Malcolm X Park Project in Poughkeepsie New York in 2018.  Juanita has a Masters Degree in Forensic Science and a Bachelors Degree in Criminal Justice and Human Services.

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Our Vice President Eddie Williams, Jr. Has been helping Formerly incarcerated people discover an alternative to substance abuse, denial, anger and destructive behavior for over twenty years.  He is a certified facilitator and trainer in Conflict Resolution and Substance abuse.  Eddie created “Reconciliation Workshop” and Redemption and emancipated soul workshop,” two full fledged workshops geared towards self-development and identifying the ENIGMA in one’s life.   Eddie also served as the Senior Counselor at Lashall School for Boys, where he supervised over twenty-five at risk youth and several counselors.  Eddie is committed to assuring that Hudson Valley ReEntry Network maintains a strong “personal development component” in all our programs.  Eddie has a Bachelor’s Degree in Criminal Justice and a Master’s Degree in Professional Studies.

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Our Treasurer, Maria Puryear, Has been a Licensed Practical Nurse sine 2007.  Maria has been on the forefront of assisting people with substance abuse issues and those who are formerly incarcerated for the past ten years.  Maria is the creator and facilitator of our Health Literacy Workshop, where she teaches formerly incarcerated people how to stay healthy through meditation, exercise, eating healthy and regular check- ups. 

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Our Secretary, Sven Thiessen Is a software consultant and community activist.  Sven is an active member of the Northern Dutchess  NAACP, Habitat for Humanity of Dutchess County and Race Unity Circle. Sven coordinated the Malcom X Park Project, in which Hudson Valley Reentry Network raised $8,000.00 from the community to replace the dilapidated fence and park sign. Sven has a Bachelors Degree in Economics.

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Our Executive Director, Ernest Henry has worked in the ReEntry field since 2007, holding positions as an Employment Specialist, Director of ReEntry Services and currently the architect of the “Grace Academy Model.” He is a former Board Member of Rising Hope Inc., (a one-year college course that offers up to 30 credit hours to men at three New York State facilities: Sing Sing, Fishkill, and Woodbourne.)

Since 2009, Ernest has hosted Voices Beyond the Wall (91.3 WVKR FM), a Radio Talk show highlighting the views and opinions of the incarcerated, formerly incarcerated, and their families, focusing on ReEntry, Parole, legal issues and the tenets of becoming an Agent of Change .  Ernest was acknowledged on the New York State Assembly Floor on June 20, 2018 by Assemblywoman Didi Barrett for ten years of Public Service for his work with Voices Beyond the Wall.  Ernest served as an Adjunct Professor at Marist College, teaching Corrections and is the Founder and Co-Owner of two Poughkeepsie based businesses. Ernest holds a Bachelor of Science Degree in Organizational Management and a Master’s Degree in Professional Studies.

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